Supporting Sexuality and Gender Diversity

Dear members of the University community / Boozhoo / Aanii / Kwe kwe,

In 2012, Laurentian’s Sexuality and Gender Diversity Committee carried out a survey to the community to assess the climate for our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, 2-sprited, + (LGBTQ2-S+) members.

While the survey did find that there were many positive experiences for LGBTQ2-S+ members, there were clear opportunities for improvement. With these findings in mind, the Committee made the following recommendations:

  • Create a Vice-President, Equity and Diversity position;
  • Develop and implement a university-wide Positive Space training program;
  • Provide resources to Pride @ LU and the Women’s Centre, including the hiring of a full-time, permanent staff member for both of these important groups;
  • Provide universally-accessible washrooms and change room facilities throughout campus;
  • Engage in the promotion of LGBTQ2-S curriculum.

I am pleased to announce that we responded with tremendous effort and made the following improvements:

  • Assistant Vice-President, Diversity, Equity and Human Rights: In April 2016, Laurentian welcomed Noël Badiou in this role. Noël came to us with a great deal of expertise in human rights and is creating proactive education programs to help create an environment of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Safe Space Training: safe space training started in September 2016 with the goal of providing training to 30-40 people within its first year. To date, over 400 members of the Laurentian community have taken part. The goal of the program is to provide visible contact points for members of the LGBTQ2-S community who may find themselves in need of seeking services or support. Laurentian members who wish to become a contact point will attend a 1 1/2 hour training session offered by Dr. Joel Dickinson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology. Participants receive a Safe Space sticker to display in their work, research and study areas, indicating that they have the knowledge to talk about issues related to sexuality or gender expression, and are familiar with internal policies, procedures, and resources as well as off-campus resources;
  • New minor in Critical Sexuality Studies: last September the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department began offering this new interdisciplinary minor which takes a critical view of sexuality from perspectives such as biology, history, and philosophy;
  • Washrooms: the University has introduced gender-neutral washrooms as part of its newly-constructed spaces;
  • Preferred Name: this may not seem like a huge leap forward, but to members of the Laurentian community who have a name on their birth certificate that does not match their identity, this initiative can be very impactful. Our name can be a very key piece to our identity, and thanks to our IT team, it is now possible for students to use a preferred name that will identify them on all systems within the university. After two years of work, we are very proud to offer this option.

All of these achievements were accomplished in five short years! Keep an eye out for the next survey which will be released within the next month, and have a say on how we move forward together!

As always, I welcome comments on the blog or any other matter. You can reach me at dominicgiroux@laurentian.ca, or can join the 12,300 people who follow me on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.

Merci, Thank you, Miigwech.

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